Carbon dating exponential process
Atmospheric carbon-14 rapidly reacts with oxygen in air to form carbon dioxide and enters the carbon cycle.
Plants take in carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and the carbon-14 makes its way up the food chain and into all living organisms.
You might remember that it was mentioned earlier that the amount of carbon-14 in living things is the same as the atmosphere.
Once they die, they stop taking in carbon-14, and the amount present starts to decrease at a constant half-life rate.
For the record, a beta-particle is a specific type of nuclear decay. Image 1 shows carbon-14 production by high energy neutrons hitting nitrogen-14 atoms, while in Image 2, carbon-14 naturally decomposes through beta-particle production.
Notice that the nitrogen-14 atom is recreated and goes back into the cycle.
Radioactive carbon-14 is continually formed in the atmosphere by the bombardment of cosmic ray neutrons on nitrogen-14 atoms.
After it forms, carbon-14 naturally decomposes, with a half-life of 5,730 years, through beta-particle decay.
This is why radiocarbon dating is only useful for dating objects up to around 50,000 years old (about 10 half-lives).
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Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope and is present in all living things in a constant amount.
Because of the carbon cycle, there is always carbon-14 present in both the air and in living organisms.